DUBAI // UAE residents are expected to apply for visas to live and work in Canada now that a six-month ban on immigration has been lifted.
The Canadian government announced plans to start accepting applications from next month under the Federal Skilled Workers (FSW) programme.
Skilled workers can be chosen as permanent residents based on their education, work experience, knowledge of English and/or French.
They may also be eligible if they have a valid offer of employment or are an international student enrolled in a PhD programme in Canada.
"Immigration was stopped for six months from July," said Imran Farooq, chief executive officer for Dubai-based consultancy Premiers, which helps people apply for a permanent Canadian residency visa.
"People are getting ready for it. The immigration ministry may issue a new list of skills in January," he said. "People require a minimum of a couple of months to prepare their documents."
About 70,000 skilled worker visas are allotted every year under the FSW programme.
The visa process takes at least eight months and Canada has not said when it would stop accepting applications.
Every year, hundreds of people in the UAE apply to migrate to Canada in the hope of better job opportunities and improved living standards.
Premiers sees mostly Filipinos, Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis and Arab nationals signing up to migrate.
Saeed Hasan, a Pakistani national who works as a quality assurance head in Dubai, is among them.
"I have family members in Canada and it would be easy for me to settle there. It's a great plus point," he said. "My children will get a better education and live in a better multicultural environment."
Agency fees charged by companies such as Premier for a family looking to move to Canada can cost between Dh10,000 and Dh12,000. There is also a separate Canadian government fee of Dh2,035 per adult and Dh555 per child.
Mr Hasan said he was willing to pay that price for a better future.
"It is an expense. But if you look at the broader picture, it is a good investment," he said.
"Immigration is helpful for the country and the migrant himself."
A spokesman for the Canadian Embassy in Abu Dhabi said licensed consultancies could offer immigration advice for a fee.
"Authorised immigration consultants, lawyers, Quebec notaries and paralegals regulated by a law society can offer immigration advice to applicants," he said. "The industry itself is responsible for fees charged by immigration representatives."
The number of temporary foreign work-permit applications processed in the capital was 2,425 in 2009 and 952 in 2010. Last year, that number stood at about 939.
However, less than half were approved, with 736 in 2009 and 336 in 2010. Last year only 399 applications were approved.
"The top 10 nationalities who had their applications for work permits approved in the Canadian mission in Abu Dhabi are Filipinos, Indians, Nepalese, Pakistanis, Omanis and Kuwaitis, Egyptians, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis and Emiratis," the embassy spokesman said.
Some, such as Kumar, a waiter at a Dubai restaurant, try to find a job first then apply for a permanent residency visa.
He was hired to work at a restaurant in Canada through a job fair organised in Dubai by a Canadian recruitment agency.
"I applied to migrate three months ago," said the Nepalese citizen. "I am now waiting for my work visa."
He is paying the agency about Dh20,000 to help him secure a job, assist with his paperwork and resettle in Canada.
Mr Kumar said that while he liked his work in Dubai, he was keen to find better opportunities.
"They are paying more salary and I will have a better life," he said.